TA News

TA Robotics Team Sweeps VT/NH Competition, Headed to World Championship

After the last bell signaled the end of the school day and the beginning of February break, TA’s campus cleared out quickly, leaving only one group of students behind. In the robotics classroom, TA’s team 4886 was hard at work preparing for the next day’s VT/NH VEX Robotics State Championship.

The event, held on Saturday, February 19, at Manchester Community College in NH, was a qualifying event for the VEX Robotics World Championships. TA brought six robots, 13 students, and two coaches to the event. They were the only school from Vermont competing. with many of the 37 teams from schools ten times the size of TA.

Despite their small size, TA’s 4886 (comprised of six individual teams) went into the competition with a strong season of success behind them. They were optimistic, determined, and prepared. The competition had three main components: a series of two vs. two matches on the game field, a series of elimination matches, and finally, playoff matches with the best 16 robots competing. 

After five hours and 74 qualification matches, TA had four of the six top robots in the elimination seeds. Surviving some hard-fought matches, all four then made it through the quarterfinals. Inevitably, though, the semifinals saw TA teams pitted against one another in separate alliances with teams from Pinkerton Academy and two TA teams (Caleb Crossett’s “Waluigi” and Eldon Crossett and Avery Crandall’s “Skunkworks”) were eliminated.

In the finals, TA’s remaining two teams, Tate Whiteberg’s “Turbo Encabulator” and Marshall Melancon, Isaiah Kol, and Michael Fernadez’s “Beefcake” faced off (along with their alliance partners) in a harrowing match that came down to final-second maneuvers. TA’s Turbo Encabulator and its Pinkerton partner won the match and with it, the VT/NH State Championship. TA’s Beefcake and its Pinkerton partner were second–and both teams were going to World’s. 

Throughout the event, a separate Skills competition was taking place on another game field, providing an opportunity for individual teams to earn points toward a rank on a worldwide list of top performers. Judges were also taking a close look at the team’s operation for set of judged awards–interviewing the team, looking at their Engineering notebooks, and watching their gameplay.

In the Skills competition, Tate Whiteberg’s Turbo Encabulator was dominant, outpacing the top score by 20 percent. And two more TA teams, Waluigi and String Theory, earned enough Skills points to take 5th and 6th places respectively. Their placement earned both teams a spot at World’s. And in the judges awards, TA’s only middle school team, Yogurt (Rowan Moody-A’ness, Tristan Woodward, and Paul Hesser), earned the Middle School Excellence Award…and a spot at World’s. 

In May, five out of six TA VEX Robotics teams will head to Dallas, TX for the VEX Robotics World Championship event. “At the end of the day, five out of TA’s six robots had qualified for World’s,” shared coaches Leif Lawhite and Marc Chabot, “Or, put another way, TA had garnered five of the nine spots allocated to all of NH and VT. Or, put another way, TA’s 300-student population, representing three percent of the ~10,000 students in competing schools, had earned 55% of the World spots….” But no matter how you parse it, we are proud of 4886 for their enormous achievements and look forward to watching them on the World’s stage.




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